A pet parenting problem that commonly occurs is when we forget to give our dogs direction and then we become upset or annoyed when our dogs make the wrong decision. If we’re leaving it up to our dogs, they’re going to do what makes sense to them.
What makes sense to a dog? Well, pretty much all of the things we don’t want them to do. (Counter surf, chew random items, bark, bolt through an open door and the list goes on.) Dogs will continue to do the behaviors that produce desirable outcomes. And without our intervention, we’re setting them up for failure and ourselves up for a lot of stress and frustration.
The best course of action is to teach our dogs the behaviors we’d rather them do and proactively ask for those behaviors. My favorite example involves meal time. Many people start to eat their meal and quickly become annoyed when their dog is “begging.” This often results in people yelling “go lie down” or something similar. This isn’t fun for anyone involved. A proactive approach to this is prior to sitting down with your meal, you’ll actually ask your dog to lie on their bed for random food rewards. The bed should be positioned in a convenient spot where you won’t have to do much work to reward your dog. When a dog is lying down on their bed, they’re not one inch from the person or the person’s food and they’re certainly not jumping up on the table.
Another example is setting everyone up to succeed when a guest arrives. Instead of letting the guest in and then trying to control the chaos, give your dog something to do to calm down some of the excitement. A work-to-eat toy is a great example! And then when it’s time to do the actual greeting, have your dog on leash and invite them up to sit to receive the person’s attention. Doing this will help tremendously.
They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of gold. (I think that’s the saying.) This definitely applies here. You’ll be much happier with the day to day if you’re handling things proactively.